THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Drinking water, toilet facility and ceiling fans are still luxuries for thousands of children in the state’s anganwadis. According to a study by the State Planning Board (SPB), 57 per cent of these children development centres does not have drinking water facility, 40 per cent does not have a toilet and 70 per cent lacks power connection.
Most of the 33,000-odd centres, which admit children in the 3-6 age group, function in shabby buildings on an average two-three cent land sans a play area.
“Local bodies entrusted with the management of anganwadis are doing little for the children,” says SPB assistant district planning officer N K Sreeletha, who conducted the study.
The study found that 11,540 centres in the state function on rented premises even as thousands of hectares of government land lie unoccupied. “Lack of facilities affect scientific grooming of kids. The worst sufferers are families below the poverty line who cannot afford private play schools,” said Kerala Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Association president K P Mary.
“The workers and helpers have a tough time owing to lack of facilities. In centres without toilet facility they take the children to nearby houses. Absence of compound walls poses safety threat to many centres,” she said. The association claimed foul-play in the State Government’s neglect towards land allotment for anganwadis. An example they cited was a centre at Athekkad in Kolazhy Panchayat in Thrissur which has been waiting for a clearance from the Revenue Department to get a six-cent puramboke land.
“A deliberate move is on to weaken the anganwadis for the benefit of private play schools,” Mary said.
“It is time for evaluation and remedial measures for the anganwadis The number of centres may be restricted to one in a local body ward for quality enhancement,” Sreeletha said. Sreeletha’s recommendations include shifting anganwadis without own buildings to the premises of govt primary schools or public health centres and directing local bodies to spend the mandatory budget allocation for childcare.
■ Total no. of anganwadis: 33,112
■ Without own building: 13,395
■ Lacking potable water: 18,881
■ Lacking toilet facility: 12,995
■ Without electricity: 23,494
■ No compound wall: 20,793